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How Can Hospitals Tell if Their Radio Systems are Overloaded?

How Can Hospitals Tell If Their Radio Systems Are Overloaded

Author: Andre Lafon, Director of RF Engineering, MCA

The past few weeks have been a challenge for us all especially those in the healthcare industry. As cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) grow exponentially, U.S. hospitals are becoming overrun with COVID-19 patients and the outlook over the next several weeks looks like we have yet to reach the peak. As hospital beds are running out, and more doctors and nurses are required to take care of the sudden increase of patients, special communication procedures must be put in place to care for infected patients as well as those not suffering from coronavirus.  The most effective and efficient form of communication used by most hospitals has been two-way radio. But what happens when there is an increased need for urgent communications, on top of an increase in staff using the two-way radio systems, in addition to an increase in the amount of communications needed to perform essential everyday duties? … System OVERLOAD.

Easy ways to identify if your hospital could be suffering from a radio system overload.

Busy signal when you press the Push To-Talk (PTT) button?

If talk groups are busy you may get an intermittent tone that plays during attempted use.

Display screen showing an error message?

When attempting to connect to broadcast your message your screen may show an error message such as “channel busy”.

Conversations Interrupted?

If your message is interrupted by other users talking while you are talking that means there is too much traffic on the channel. Too much traffic can result in missed messages or misunderstood messages.

Messages being cut off?

Too many radios sharing a frequency can cut off the signal and drop all messages being transmitted.

Possible simple solutions to radio system overload.


Have your system evaluated to make sure you are using all channels properly and grouping properly. You could potentially re-distribute less critical channels to support the influx of new users, or if there are any data channels, they could be repurposed into voice operation.


Adding temporary repeaters or renting two-way radios can add channels during a crises or otherwise busy period where more capacity is needed.

Using Direct Mode

Radios being used in close proximity or direct line of sight, such as in parking lots can be switched to simplex (or direct) mode to free up channels.

Using Alternate Methods of Communicating

In addition to two-way radio, communications could be shared over smartphones or tablets with the WaveApp.

If you believe your hospital system is experiencing radio system overload don’t wait another minute, contact MCA today at 800-596-8205. Mobile Communications America (MCA) provides wireless communication solutions for a safe, secure and more efficient workplace. As your trusted advisor, we reduce the time and effort needed to research, install, and maintain the right solutions to make your workplace better.

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